Framed by rocky mountains and tropical forests, Rio de Janeiro is a city with an iconic skyline filled with unique silhouettes. Rio’s beauty is magnified by the sunset – hit the city’s best beaches, patios and lookout points to watch the sun sink and the city streets light up with nightlife.
Ipanema & Ponta do Arpoador
Ipanema is one of the best known beach spots for locals and tourists, and it serves up some of the city’s best sunset views. The Posto 9 area is always full of people enjoying the sun, sipping on a mate (a local tea infusion drink), or playing beach volleyball and soccer (or altinha – when you have fewer players). At sundown, head over to Arpoador, the rocky point located at the end of the beach. People from all over the world visit this spot to catch a perfect selfie against the pink sky while surfers catch the last waves of the day near Morro dos Dois Irmãos.
Parque da Cidade in Niteroi
The city of Niteroi is located just across Guanabara Bay – or on the other side of the bridge, as cariocas (Rio locals) usually say. The city is home to several parks and beaches, most notably Parque da Cidade, an ideal place to catch the sun going down over the water.
From here you’ll be treated to striking views of many of Rio’s most distinguished landmarks, including Christo Redentor, Pão de Açúcarand Morro dos Dois Irmãos. Access is easy, too: hop on the ferry in Rio and head to São Francisco, Niteroi. From there, grab a rideshare (which should only run you around R$10,00) or hike the 2km to the viewpoint.
Charming Urca is a small neighborhood located between Praia Vermelha and Botafogo filled with traditional houses and homey restaurants. Avenida João Luiz Alves wraps around around the neighborhood and overlooks Guanabara Bay, and here you’ll find a local favorite for sunset-watching. Bar Urca is a small boteco whose service isn’t limited to its restaurant space – it also serves clients who post up on the wall lining the bay to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Pão de Açúcar
This one comes as no surprise: Pão de Açúcar, aka Sugarloaf Mountain. One of the most famous tourist hotspots in Rio, the summit towers 395 meters above the city, and on clear days it’s a great vantage point to watch the sun go down. We recommend heading up in the afternoon to give yourself plenty of time (two-stage cable cars make the ascent every twenty minutes); once evening sets in, Rio begins to sparkle with lights, which is a treat to see on its own.
Tijuca National Park
Tijuca National Park is the first replanted forest in the world; this part of the Atlantic rainforest was originally cleared away by Portugueses colonists, but a reforestation effort began in 1861, and today the forest occupies 3 square kilometers of land near Rio. Here you’ll not only find the famous Christo Redentor, but also a number of waterfalls and hiking trails, and ruins of coffee farms that existed long ago. This wildlife wonderland is also one of the best places to watch a sunset in the area, all while taking in the sounds of nearby birds.
There are multiple places within the park to watch the sunset, and several different ways to access them: by bus, train (to Corcovado and the Christ), or on foot or by bike (through the trails). Head to Vista Chinesa, a lookout pavilion that’s perfect for watching the sun go down. The best way to get here is by private car, taxi or rideshare via Rua Pacheco Leåo. You can also catch a bus (409), and take it to the last stop.
The Aprazível Restaurant in the Santa Teresa neighborhood is an atmospheric place to enjoy a sundowner, a cozy haunt with lots of leafy trees, a welcoming atmosphere, and an idyllic patio. House chef Ana Castilho creates beautiful Brazilian fusion cuisine, so if you like new gastro experiences, laid-back evenings, and views of the sun going down on Guanabara Bay, this is a wonderful place to be.
Paquetá Island is not well known as a sunset-watching location, but it should be. The small island is a car-free zone (travel is done on foot or by bike), so it’s a tranquil place to watch the sun shift across the bay; head to Pedra da Moreninha (and the beach with the same name) for the best views. While you’re here, uncover the history of João da Nação Benguella, a famous slave who spent his nights praying in front of the sea for his family, from whom he was separated.